Intraspecific Variation in Leaf Life Span for the Semi-evergreen Liana Akebia trifoliata is Caused by Both Seasonal and Aseasonal Factors in a Temperate Forest

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We investigated the leaf demography of a temperate woody liana, Akebia trifoliata, in a temperate forest in Japan, Akebia is semi-evergreen: some leaves are shed before winter, while others remain through the winter. Previous studies of semi-evergreen species found that variation in leaf life span was caused by variation in the timing of leaf emergence, Leaves that appeared just before winter over-wintered, while leaves appearing earlier were shed, However, it is unclear whether leaves of the same cohort (i.e., leaves that appear at the same time within a single site) show variation in life span under the effect of strong seasonality. To separate variation in life span among the leaves in each cohort from variation among cohorts, we propose a new method - the single leaf diagram, which shows the emergence and death of each leaf. Using single leaf diagrams, our study revealed that Akebia leaves within a cohort showed substantial variation in life span, with some over-wintering and some not. In addition, leaves on small ramets in the understory showed great variation in life span, while leaves on large ramets, which typically reach higher positions in the forest canopy, have shorter lives, As a result, small ramets were semi-evergreen, whereas large ramets were deciduous, The longer lives of leaves on small ramets can be interpreted as a shade-adaptive strategy in understory plants.


  • Journal of Ecology and Environment

    Journal of Ecology and Environment 31(3), 207-211, 2016-02

    The Ecological Society of Korea


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